A solid field of 8 entered in $100,000 pace
by John Furgele, Harness Racing 228
There are lots of stakes races in harness racing—lots of ‘em—and many of them offer more than $100,000 and still don’t attract as good a field as tomorrow’s Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway.
For some reason, this November classic has turned into a good little show on a Sunday night in Ft. Washington, MD. Yes, it gets buried on a football Sunday, but if you’re footballed out by late Sunday evening, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to tune into the “PP,” on the 5/8 mile track.
The field is led by the reigning Horse of the Year, McWicked. He won’t win the award this year, but after a dawdling start, he has rebounded nicely. In 16 starts, he has six wins, three seconds, three thirds, a 1:47.2 seasonal best clocking and $1,017,466 in earnings. That’s not a bad season for any horse, let alone an 8-year old. Oh, he also gets Brian Sears in the bike, the Hall of Famer who has guided him many times in his illustrious career.
Next up is This Is The Plan who has run well this year despite the misfortune of trying to beat Lather Up in several races this year. In addition to over $770,000 in 2019 earnings, the Ron Burke trainee has a 3-6-0 record in 19 starts. Yannick Gingras is in the bike which is amazing considering that the overall card at Rosecroft does not offer big purses. Other than the Potomac, the only other race with a significant purse is the $25,000 Maryland Invitational, so getting Gingras to essentially come in for this one race is a good get indeed.
American History is the third choice here and will be driven by the young up-and-comer, Joe Bongiorno. AH comes in with 5-2-2 in 18 starts to go along with $437,000 plus in earnings. You can see the pattern develop here. This is a race that features horses that love going to the post. The eight have combined to make 164 starts this year and the results show 45 wins; a 27.4 percentage.
The other two live wires are Dorsoduro Hanover and Courtly Choice; recognizable names that may have lost a half-step, but if things break the right way, they could be there at the wire. And, remember cashing the check is always the goal in harness racing. A third here adds $12,000, a fourth, $8,000, while a fifth gets a check for $5,000 with another race perhaps just five to seven days away.
Dorsoduro Hanover has a resume that reads 4-1-2 in 16 starts while Courtly Choice comes in with 4-3-1 in 17. Matt Kakaley drives Hanover for Burke while Callahan drives Choice for Blake MacIntosh.
If you’re like me—someone who watches races without betting—and want to root for a true warrior than throw your support behind Slick Tony who will fire from the 8-post. The “Slick One,” is listed at 15-1, but don’t be sad; this is a horse that deserves to run in a race like this.
He has made 34 starts this year with 14 wins. Has he raced the best of the best this year? Not even close—his 14-4-5 record has “only” earned him $177,389 this year, but to me that means nothing. You always need that long shot and who knows–a third place showing would put $12,000 in the Slickster’s bank account.
Sometimes, it’s good for the racing secretary to look for a horse like this to fill out the field. It might be wiser to seek out a more accomplished performer, but Slick Tony has performed enough to be a horse of intrigue in this invitational pace.
On paper he is outclassed, but why not let him run in a very nice stakes race for start number 35 of the year. Horses like Slick Tony are what the sport is all about—grinders, battlers, warriors, workers. For trainer George Leager, he now gets to say that he trained a stakes performer and that’s something that will resonate with him forever.
So, if you’re looking to wager a buck or two on a longshot, there is nothing wrong with showing some love for Slick Tony.
The Potomac Pace is scheduled for a 9:55 p.m. ET post, so that gives you time to watch some football, perhaps the MLS Cup Final, eat a nice dinner, get the dishes done, relax a bit and then tune into a quality Sunday night stakes race at Rosecroft Raceway.